Successful stories are full of lively characters, colorful descriptions, and a glimpse of emotional depth.
Characters cannot be grey and lifeless; they have to embody human emotion. Whether it is a tiresome factory worker coming home to his family, or the young lady embarking on a new adventure, there is an element of emotion that needs to resonate with the audience through the telling of the story.
We need to be moved in order to read and share the story, especially when it comes to digital storytelling.
When we are moved, we will like, re-tweet, email, share, and pass along the story.
The art of storytelling always requires attention to the craft. This list will help you think about what makes a great story, going beyond the story techniques to the powerful elements that grab at our hearts and pull at our emotions.
15 Questions for Crafting a Successful Story
- What is the theme? Themes are familiar to your reader and should be identified from the start.
- What emotion is portrayed? Different characters may require different emotions, but overall the creator should be able to identify what they need to feel in the story and how to show it.
- What emotion does your audience experience? These should be tied together. You want your audience to feel for the character, to experience similar emotions as the story unfolds.
- What unites us as an audience? The audience should have a reason to connect and pay attention to your story.
- Is the story powerful, entertaining, or inspiring? These are the three types of digital stories that are most shared online.
- Is the ultimate desire clear? The audience should be able to move through the story sharing the same desire as the main character. We will always want the hero to succeed if we can relate to him and understand his motivations.
- Do all of the elements work together? Nothing should stand out, too much, in order for us to follow along and enter the world of your story.
- What can be left out? Necessary for all stories. Tightening the story can often enhance the power of the emotion portrayed.
- What needs to be expanded on? Is your audience confused? Are there elements that cause too much intrigue, pulling the audience away from the story? Whether it’s a video or a short story, there shouldn’t be distractions in the world you create. If your audience is distracted they will not experience the emotions and message successfully.
- Could the point of view be enhanced? Maybe the idea comes through well from the father’s point of view, but would it be more moving to hear from the child?
- Does it leave room for reflection? Inspiring or emotionally moving stories usually leave you feeling a bit winded afterwards, you want to think about it and digest your feelings. Even humor can leave us questioning social norms or ideas.
- Do other audiences understand the message? A great story is a great story. Though it may be more powerful and meaningful for one specific audience, it should translate well for multiple audiences. When it’s too technical or divided, it can leave out what grasps all humans emotionally.
- Do you want to follow the entire story? You will want the audience to be emotionally engaged from beginning to end, otherwise the message may not come across.
- Am I satisfied at the end? You may feel angry, hurt, unhappy, or inspired at the end, but the message should be completed and no major questions of the story should be left unanswered.
- Is this a sharable story? Would this story move you enough to tweet it, share it, email it to your friends? Sharable stories are the most successful stories. They will inspire their own readership without your promotion.
For more specific storytelling techniques, visit my previous post. Remember that sharable stories online move, inspire, and call us to connect as a people.